Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Power of Sorry

Think about how many times a day you say sorry. Until it was recently pointed out to me, I didn’t even realize how often I would say sorry, even just to fill space. I would say sorry to friends who were listening to my problems. I would say sorry to people who cut me off in the grocery store. I would say sorry to people just to make them feel better.

 But why?

Why am I taking responsibility for others’ actions? And why am I apologizing for something I didn’t cause? It was becoming something I said proactively so that I didn’t upset anyone or annoy them. 

When Natalie (@themoreyoumerlot) came into my life, a lot of scary and sad events had happened in the recent past. One of the first times we hung out, I opened up like a Pandora’s Box. She was there to listen, and she wanted to be there for me. But I kept saying sorry. She pointed out this habit within the first few times I said it. “You say sorry way too much. You don’t have to apologize for me listening to you. I want to!”

I immediately got self conscious - because she was so right. I was using the “s” word so often to make people feel better or to excuse myself for taking up space in their life. And once she said that, I immediately said - you guessed it - “sorry!”

I realized I was using “sorry” as some use other filler words like “umm,” “like,” etc. I was using it as a way to pause and think in conversation; and the power of my “sorry” had lost its meaning.

By not mindfully utilizing the power of “sorry,” I was making myself accountable for things out of my control. I didn’t even mean it most of the time. The word didn’t have umph. It became a reflex, instead of something I would say that actually had meaning behind it.

Normally, as women, we try to take responsibility for things out of our control. We apologize for extreme emotions. If we get too pumped about something or if someone makes us cry, for example. We say “sorry” because we are afraid we will come off as being “too much.” We don’t want others to find us a pest or too emotional. We’re worried about inconveniencing someone with how we’re feeling. But we must remember that how we feel isn’t always within our control. We surround ourselves with people in our lives who hopefully listen to us because they want to. They have our backs, and we are not an inconvenience to them.

I have personally found that even when people walk into me on the street, or if someone bumps into my cart at the grocery store, I say sorry! It is the craziest habit.

The more we say it, the more we use it as a reflex - the more we take away not only from the power of the word, but the power of ourselves. All we can do is control our own actions and take responsibility for them. We can feel bad for things that happen to others, but we can’t take responsibility for the things we cannot control.

Owning our actions is so important and there is still a place for “sorry” in our vocabulary, but only when we do something wrong. When we hurt someone - unintentionally or otherwise. We need to own our actions and the word “sorry,” and having a sincere emotion attached to the word is a huge part of that.
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